LinkedIn: Make the Most of Your Profile
Presenting yourself on LinkedIn is a bit like being a book in a bookstore. Unless the customer comes in knowing what they want, they typically gravitate to books with compelling covers or just the right words on the spine. In LinkedIn, the old adage about judging a book by its cover still holds true.
So how do you present your best “you”? LinkedIn makes it easy with the structure of the profiles. But that doesn’t mean it’s obvious how to get your message across. Here are some tips to get you started.
Photo: Add a great-looking headshot, one that makes you look professional and friendly. A photo of yourself is more important than you think. I have one colleague that does not consider doing business with anyone that does not post their picture. Even if you don’t think you’re photogenic, not posting your picture might be the limiting factor in getting that interview. Add a catchy headline under your photo, one that focuses on what you can do for the employer, such as “I help students improve their reading skills.” Remember that you are being hired for a purpose or to solve a problem the employer has – address this in your headline.
Summary: This is where you state what you do and what you want: essentially it’s your elevator speech. This is not the chance for you to outline the circuitous path of your career. All that really matters here is what you do/want now. For example:
Experienced personnel manager with excellent communication skills and proficiency in Microsoft Office programs. Strong planner, organizer, and problem solver who has served as “the rock amid the chaos” at every job.
Note how this summary reads “experienced” but does not say the number of years experience. Stating in your summary that you have more than 20 years experience is a no-no and an immediate rule-out for many employers. You don’t want to show your hand about your age—young or old—too soon. If they’re interested they’ll read your full profile, but you don’t want to turn them away at the first line.
Specialties: Here, again, there’s no need to mention every specialized skill you have. Think like a prospective employer. What will catch their attention? Be specific. If it’s a technology, name it and include the abbreviation so it’ll be found on a search. If it’s a skill set, use adjectives other than effective or efficient. For example:
Managing challenging personalities with both good humor and team spirit, reprioritizing on a dime, and establishing e-systems (shared drives, databases) that benefit the organization as a whole.
Experience: This section is essentially your résumé. You don’t need to show that you’re a Jack-of-all-trades, especially if you’ve changed careers. You’ll solidify your brand (and that is what we are doing here, folks) if you limit your experience list to only the type of work you want to do from here on. Include any accomplishments that will raise an employer’s eyebrows and fight the urge to go on and on. Avoid listing only a string of key words, but it’s completely acceptable here to use dates.
For each section, be sure to proofread and spell-check every entry. Going back to the book-by-its-cover motif, the LinkedIn profile can be an effective way to get your name out there. You definitely want to present yourself in the most professional manner. The LinkedIn profile is a good way to start. So, go to LinkedIn.com and get started!
I’ll offer more tips on how best to use LinkedIn for your job search in upcoming installments. Till then, best wishes in your career endeavors.
Claire Miner, PhD, LPC, National Certified Counselor